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15 Creative Photo Manipulations of Food…

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6 Holiday Marketing Strategies That Drive ROI

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Snagging a portion of holiday spending can have a big impact on your business.

In 2016, total holiday spending in November and December was up 11 percent over the previous year. Forty percent of retailers experienced a 48 percent jump in revenue, on average, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday according to Adobe’s annual holiday spending study.

What about the other 60 percent of retailers? They likely didn’t capture many holiday spending dollars because they didn’t properly tap into the holiday marketing conversations. The six suggestions below will help business owners implement the most effective, ROI-positive holiday marketing strategies based on the latest research on what is most impactful for today’s consumers. 

1. Provide additional holiday staff and superior customer service.

In your marketing message, promote that you’ll have extra, knowledgeable staff on hand to assist customers with their holiday purchases. Consumers favor brands offering superior customer service and timely fulfillment over discount pricing and flexible return policies. Trustpilot’s 2017 holiday season report found that 48.2 percent of shoppers said they were most likely to rely on customer reviews than price tools.

Your additional staff promotional strategy can also specifically call out that you’ll offer shorter hold times for callers and faster service for those looking to quickly pop in and pick up an online or phoned-in order.

An additional, lasting added benefit of providing great customer service is that it drives positive online reviews. According to the same report from Trustpilot, variations on “customer service” appeared across the top five most commonly used two-word phrases in five-star reviews.

2. Offer simplified online checkouts.

The cost of implementing an updated online checkout will deliver a strong return on investment this holiday season (and beyond). Baynard Institute reports that the average cart abandonment rate is 69 percent. Often this is because the online checkout process is too cumbersome for customers.

The average mobile checkout process is over three pages long, frequently causing shopping cart abandonment. Just 14 percent of top consumer brands offer single-page checkout, so small businesses that implement an easier checkout process will have a competitive advantage over these larger, traditional retail brands. 

3. Ramp up your holiday email marketing efforts.

Email marketing is a low cost, high-impact way to drive holiday shopping from your customers. Every dollar spent on email marketing can earn businesses up to $44 in revenue. Send a note wishing customers a merry holiday season and offer them as discount as a “holiday gift” from your business.

From your initial email send, any customer who clicks through to your website (your warmest leads) should be retargeted throughout the holiday shopping period to close the deal via additional discounts, reminders of key “last ship” dates for online ordering, or with store details, such as extended holiday shopping hours.


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4. Make sure your social media posts are filled with photos.

Show off your inventory to inspire customers to gift your items or add them to their own holiday wish lists. Meltwater shares that 77 percent of B2C companies have acquired a customer through Facebook, and Pinterest drives 25 percent of all website referral traffic. Another recent study found Instagram influences 75 percent of users’ purchasing decisions.Sure,

Make your items look especially desirable to customers by taking high-quality and polished photos. Photograph your items on models, in holiday scenes and incorporate them into a variety of different styles to increase the potential appeal amongst customers.

Don’t forget about video! Videos typically achieve higher organic reach on Facebook, and more than half of marketers say that video content drives the best ROI for their business.

5. Be ready for mobile shoppers.

Simplified mobile websites are superior for driving mobile purchases from holiday shoppers. Both Amazon and Walmart said more customers shopped Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals via their mobile devices than in-store visits. Any investment in a mobile website refresh will be earned back via an increased conversion rate and the number of sales your business captures from mobile shoppers.

To provide a convenient, hassle-free mobile shopping experience for customers, businesses should simplify their mobile website to a single column with limited, easy-to-navigate menus. Ensure that all videos and photos are responsive and optimized for mobile viewing. Capture in-store shopper conversions by including info on your store’s location, ideally automatically suggesting the closest store. But be sure to include contact details (enable click-to-call functionality) and the departments or offerings available at that specific location, if you have numerous stores. 

6. Increase customer reviews of your store.

Customer reviews and your business’s review rating score are significant drivers of customers choosing to shop at your store. Most businesses see an average increase of 10 percent in their review counts in November and December. An increased number of reviews, an improved score and recent reviews all drive holiday shoppers to your store. Trustpilot reported that there was a significant increase in review-viewing and searching from September through the end of November in 2016 as holiday shoppers planned their gifts.

To increase reviews for your store during this time, have staff ask customers who express their delight in their shopping experience to leave a review to help other holiday shoppers select the best store. After an online purchase, send customers an email asking them to review the product or their online shopping experience.

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What Font Fits Your Small Business Logo and Branding? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Tips for Choosing the Right Font for Your Brand

As a small business owner, you want your company to be easily recognizable. One way to achieve this goal is to select the right font for your company’s logo.

Unfortunately, most business owners do not fully understand why choosing the right font for their brand should be a priority.

To help businesses select the right fonts for their brand, Australia-based web design company Creative Canary, has compiled useful data from various sources.

Tips for Choosing the Right Font for Your Brand

Before you select a font for your brand, ask yourself what kind of image you want to communicate. This is important because there are hundreds of fonts to choose from, and each font represents something unique.

You must also consider where the font will be displayed. A font that looks ideal on screen may not work well on a large billboard.

A good idea is to preview how the font will look within the overall design. Will there be a color clash? Is the spacing good enough to make the text readable? Will it work well with the background design? These are some important questions to ask.

If you plan to use multiple fonts or typefaces, preview how they appear in conjunction with each other. Sometimes, two typefaces may clash and cause problems with the visual hierarchy.

Why Font Selection Should be Taken Seriously

In an increasingly cluttered marketplace, brand differentiation has become extremely crucial. That’s why it’s important to avoid mismatching the font with the intended brand image or target market.

A poor font choice can easily render an otherwise excellent message obsolete and defeat the whole purpose of targeted marketing. This is especially important because first impressions matter and fonts draw the initial audience attention.

To know more about how you can select the most appropriate font for your brand, check out the infographic below:

Tips for Choosing the Right Font for Your BrandVintage Typescript Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What Font Fits Your Small Business Logo and Branding? (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

Deliver Better Customer Service Experiences With These 10 Books

10 Customer Service Experience Books

Technology has changed every aspect of business including customer service. Because of technology, customers no longer passively consume your marketing and advertising. They can research your claims, compare your business within seconds, and choose from a global marketplace of options. 

Technology also gives customers a larger platform than ever before. In the past, businesses only worried about their local reputation. This has changed. A customer’s Tweets, Yelp reviews and Facebook comments can impact your business’ reputation across the state, country and the world.

This means that customer service is different from in the past. Toll-free hotlines and comment cards aren’t enough for customers anymore. Customers demand more.

Customer Service Experience Books

That is the purpose of this list. It helps business owners figure out what they can do in this new age of customer service. The list highlights 10 books that focus on the essential sales and marketing skills your service professionals (or team) should hone to keep their practices updated for the modern customer. 

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Your Customer Is The Star: How To Make Millennials, Boomers And Everyone Else Love Your BusinessYour Customer Is The Star: How To Make Millennials, Boomers And Everyone Else Love Your Business

by Micah Solomon

One of the biggest changes that will occur over the next few years is demographic. Millennials will become the largest target market.

This rise is occurring at the same time other generations (Baby Boomers, Generation Y, Generation Z, etc.)  are also in the mix. The result creates a unique environment for businesses in general because they will need to cater to the demands of multiple generations.

One thing that won’t change is the need for good customer service.

Providing good customer service in the midst of all those changes is the goal of  Your Customer Is The Star.

This book helps business owners adopt their customer service practices for the changing technological future while staying rooted in the good common sense practices of the past.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Experience My Brand: How Successful Companies Develop Loyal Customers and Increase ProfitsExperience My Brand: How Successful Companies Develop Loyal Customers and Increase Profits

by Joe Tawfik

Creating a brand is the easy part. Associating your brand with consistent positive customer experiences is the hard part.

In Experience My Brand, customer experience guru Joe Tawfik shows how businesses can build that bridge between brand and customer experience.

Building this bridge is important because it connects your customer’s emotions with your business’ products or services.

This is the “secret sauce” that makes customers loyal. Many businesses don’t know or ignore this principle.

Sales is not simply a game of logic. It is a game of emotions.

Entrepreneurs who understand this principle are able to build the loyalty that will keep their businesses profitable now and in the unpredictable future.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer ServiceThe Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service

by Jeff Toister

Good customer service doesn’t start when you create a policy. Good customer service has to be part of the everyday culture of your business. For some businesses, building a service-oriented culture seems easy.

For others, it can take some work. Regardless of where your business falls on the scale, The Service Culture Handbook can help your business reach a new level of customer excellence.

This book helps readers make their customer-service approach an explicit part of their business process, from the employees to the leaders who create the policies.

Using the book’s comprehensive approach, readers can make sure that every part of their business is centered around this philosophy.

When your business embodies customer service at this level, customer service is more than a department or philosophy. It’s a profitable and competitive asset that will draw in good employers and customers alike.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered InnovationJobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation

by Stephen Wunker, Jessica Wattman and David Farber

When it comes to creating new products or services for customers, the hardest part isn’t the idea.

It’s finding the customers that will actually like (and spend their money on) your idea.

Jobs to be Done offers a way to fix that problem by directing readers’ attentions to one simple question: What role will your new product or service play in your customer’s lives?

In the rush to create the “newest thing”, most businesses fail to ask this simple question. As a result, they miss the mark.

Once business owners start asking this simple question, they can start innovating (and profiting) from it.

Jobs to be Done provides a road map to help leaders figure out what ideas they should pursue, how to execute those ideas, and how to improve on those ideas to ensure a consistent competitive advantage.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every TouchpoWhat Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint

by Nicholas Webb

Understanding what customers want is a good business practice. Understanding what customers crave is the practice of a successful and growing business.

Reaching that point where customers crave your business’s products or services isn’t easy, though. It’s actually more complicated because there’s more stuff to do in customer service.

Customers now expect a variety of options (email, chat, phone, social media or physical location) when dealing with your business.

They want the same customer experience at every point they interact with your business.

Creating a consistent, relevant and positive experience at every point that you interact with customers is the goal of What Customers Crave.

With this book, readers learn how to measure, align and optimize a business around this simple, but ambitious, goal.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your CustomersHug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers

by Jay Baer

In his latest book Hug Your Haters, Jay Baer tackles customer service in the new, tech-driven world. In this world, one angry customer can air out their complaints about your business for everyone to see.

Previously, a customer’s complaint didn’t usually go beyond the neighborhood. Now, it can go global.

This power should not be ignored. A customer’s well-timed negative complaint can destroy your business’s reputation and bottom line.

Many businesses, fearing the risk, choose to ignore the problem. They pick and choose customer comments that show them in their best light. They ignore the others.

Bad move.

As Jay Baer shares in the book, customer complaints are a potential risk, but they can also be a potential goldmine. Your business has to know how to leverage that potential. That’s where Hug Your Haters shines. It shows business owners how to leverage their complaints into something more powerful, a skill that every business will need in an always-connected world.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling: How to Communicate Customer Value and Differentiate From CompetitorsThe 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling: How to Communicate Customer Value and Differentiate From Competitors

by Mark Holmes

It’s good to find customers with marketing and advertising. At some point, you have to sell your business to those customers. When selling their products, most sales staff focus on features.

“We’re cheaper than Company X” or “We have more channels than Company Y” are things a sales person might say. While these are good things to mention, they miss the point.

Sales, from the view of the customer, is about value. A sale is more than a financial decision. It’s an emotional one. Sales professionals who know how to package and deliver the kind of value that customers wants will get the sale.

In The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling, readers will follow a fictional story of a sales professional who learns to focus on customer value. Through her father, the sales professional learns simple, but powerful lessons on delivering customer value and the 5 basic rules to make delivering customer value a process.

In doing so, she exceeds her sales quotas and ends up establishing her own company. Through her story, readers can learn simple tricks to improve their sales strategies to provide a better value for everyone involved.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Co-Create: How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative and Strategic CollaborationCo-Create: How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative and Strategic Collaboration

by David Nour

With the rise of technology, it’s clear customers want to communicate with businesses. They want to comment on your products and services.

They want to get answers to their questions and feedback. Co-Create takes it a step further.

In Co-Create, author David Nour suggests that businesses allow customers to get involved in the business.


Customers can give a unique perspective that can guide your innovation efforts and strategy.

When customers move from passive consumers to active participants, they become more emotionally and financially invested in your business (Example: Facebook).

This investment does more than draw in additional customers. It draws in investors as well, attracting he investment you can begin to grow your business and start drawing in even more customers as a result.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of ChurnSubscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn

by Anne Janzer

It can be hard to keep a customer in a world where customers can leave with a click but it is possible.

In Subscription Marketing, author Anne Janzer shows how it is done.

Subscription Marketing focuses on the ways that front line employees — like your marketing, customer service and sales team — can use modern techniques to nurture and grow your subscriber base.

The book helps businesses that depend on recurring subscribers to attract leads and nurture those leads through the sales cycle. Getting subscribers is the first step to “Subscriber Marketing”.

The next (and harder) step is getting those subscribers to stay engaged with your product or service. This is the second focus of Subscription Marketing.

The book shows readers how to increase their value across different customer touchpoints. These subscribers become engaged and active ambassadors of your brand, making marketing easier on your business.

10 Customer Service Experience Books - Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do ItBe Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It

by Jeffrey Eisenberg, Bryan Eisenberg, and Roy H Williams 

Businesses spend lots of money trying to create the newest “hot thing” with customers. In reality, these businesses have it backward. They should focus more on creating new “value” in their relationships with customers.

That’s what Amazon does and that’s what you can do with the help of Be Like Amazon.

In Be Like Amazon, the authors dive into the customer-focused principles that allowed Amazon to rise from an online bookstore to a global powerhouse customers can’t live without. Through the use of a fictional story, authors Jeffrey Eisenberg, Bryan Eisenberg and Roy H. Williams share the four core principles that distinguish Amazon (and other successful companies) from the pack.

As readers will see, technology was only a part of the equation. A bigger part was building a customer service-oriented business.

You don’t need expensive software, robots or drones to build a world-class business (although they might help).

You need to focus on solving your customer’s problem with the least amount of effort.

You can do that even with a lemonade stand.

Customer Service Methods Have Changed, Not the Fundamentals

The books in this list focus more on the process instead of the technology. (That’ll be another list). Before diving into customer service technology, businesses must get the process of customer service right first. Those processes are still rooted in good, old-fashioned values like reciprocity and hospitality. The only difference is how those values are translated in an always-connected digital world where customers find themselves. Build your customer service process with the right values and you’ll be able to conquer any technology that comes your way.

Stack of Books Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Deliver Better Customer Service Experiences With These 10 Books” was first published on Small Business Trends

BPM: The Key to Successful Digital Transformation

Digital transformation: A new force to reckon with

Digital transformation (DX) is one buzzword that gets thrown around a lot when we talk about the future of businesses. Contrary to what many people think, digital transformation is not digitization of analog data, nor is it another term for digital disruption. Digital transformation is an operational nirvana that takes place when an organization integrates digital technology to make fundamental changes to its process and capabilities and, eventually, to enhance the value of its products or services for a greater customer experience.

Digital transformation needs digitization as part of its process, but it doesn’t stop there. For example, upgrading your company website to be more user-friendly, animated or interactive is pushing the digital capabilities of your business, but that doesn’t symbolize digital transformation in its entirety. You can’t just buy an application and transform your workplace into a digital platform.

Driving innovation with digital transformation

Digital transformation is a large-scale change that’s happening in the global landscape just as the dust from digital disruption is settling. An organization needs monumental change in its culture for its leadership and teams to think differently, increase their digital experience at all levels, innovate more frequently, and increase their risk-taking abilities. In an age of transform-or-perish business mandates, many factors propel the momentum of digital transformation.

Companies that have survived the digital disruption are a testimony to the change in customer expectations of products and services. Today’s marketplace is extremely volatile for businesses that can’t offer an edge in their value chain and make their products or services more convenient for customers. Think of how Netflix outclassed Blockbuster chains or how Uber overtook the transportation business from taxis. Digitally enlightened companies are redefining the ways of doing business and winning over customers’ hearts with the convenience their services offer.

Environmental factors like competition, customers and industry regulations also push businesses to prepare for the upcoming challenges. Internal organizational factors such as the employees, leadership and business partners play an equally important part in changing the ways a business operates.

A digitally morphed business will have the courage to replace a long-standing business practice with a new automated one, even if the process is not yet fully defined. When the transformation matures, the business adds new capabilities to its operational functions that are driven by increased operational insights, enhanced products and greater customer trust.

Align the BPM vector to achieve digital transformation

Business process management (BPM) solutions have evolved from a nice-to-have addition to an organization to must-have armor in its arsenal. The BPM approach to workflow is one of the key enablers for implementing digital transformation in any organization. BPM takes into account the five pillars of a successful digital transformation:

  • Integration of digital technology
  • Agile processes
  • Leadership and culture
  • Workforce readiness
  • Customer experience

While they may vary depending on a company’s unique situation, these factors are more or less common to all organizations in implementing digital transformation. Of these, BPM offers process agility and automation as part of its solution, which are some of the basic requirements for businesses to internalize the digital transformation process.

BPM also enhances the symbiotic relationship between people, processes and platforms. Organizations use BPM to achieve agility, collaboration and innovation – the very goals at the heart of digital transformation. These are important enablers to realize digital transformation, and BPM holds a very important place within an organization’s context to help deliver the change.

Start your digital transformation journey

Digital transformation radically changes the way an organization thinks, makes its products, markets its services, buys and sells goods, and communicates with its customers. Businesses that want to stay abreast of tomorrow’s market rush have to rapidly increase their digital pace today. They should adopt agile principles and implement them across all aspects of their operations to increase overall excellence.

For every business that wishes to compete in the future market, digital transformation is not a choice, but an indispensable survival skill. It’s a great time for businesses to formulate a strategy to enable digital transformation in sync with BPM initiatives. Once you are ready with a plan, you can start implementing the transformation in lockstep with your existing processes.


4 Trends Manufacturers Can Use to Forge Their Social Media Strategy

As we inch closer to 2018, new social media trends, like Facebook Messenger bots, are changing the landscape for B2C. But what about the trends impacting industrial manufacturers, specifically B2B companies?

Don’t worry; some current trends can help you optimize, promote and create engaging content for prospective new customers on social media. Here are four of them you should be aware of as you plan your social media strategy for 2018.

1. Video is ruling

If you think content is king, think again. Video currently reigns supreme on social media. According to recent surveys, more than 70 percent of marketers say that video is boosting their ROIs. Businesses that make video a focal point in their marketing strategy see 34 percent higher web conversion rates and 27 percent higher click-through rates, so there isn’t a better time for industrial manufacturers to tap into video.

Whether you’re partnering with a video production company or an inbound agency, set up meetings with your team first to brainstorm potential video ideas and how they will adjust to your social media strategy as a whole. For instance, an industrial original equipment manufacturer can promote an interview with an expert explaining part of the fabrication process or share a “teaser” video of their welding operations. Then 30 seconds into the video, users can be prompted to fill their email and name to watch the rest of it on the company’s site.

With these types of strategies, you will not only create valuable content for prospects but also capture their contact information and eventually take future steps to convert them into customers.

2. Mobile first

While new platforms – Instagram and Snapchat – were specifically designed for mobile users, older ones, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, are now witnessing users accessing their networks more from mobile devices. Industrial manufacturers can start optimizing their social posts for both desktop and mobile. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Make sure links send visitors to mobile-optimized pages.
  • Keep the posts short and simple – preferably under 150 characters.
  • Ensure images you share are approximately 630 pixels tall and 1,200 pixels wide.
  • Once a link preview populates, remove the URL from the post.

Because most social channels emphasize mobile, you’ve got to ensure you’re creating a quality experience for every user, and a great place to start is with a mobile-first mindset.

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3. Don’t overlook Facebook Messenger

The 2017 Facebook Messaging Survey reported that more than 50 percent of users are more likely to do business with a company they can message. This is a sign that customers nowadays wish for more hassle-free and casual forms of communication. Facebook gets this point as they continue to make communications a priority by allowing users to send a message directly to a company’s Facebook page. No wonder why Facebook shares are on the rise – they seem to be doing everything just right these days.

Heading into 2018, industrial manufacturers with a solid Facebook presence ought to take advantage of this new channel if they want to stay competitive. Monitor your customer feedback and answer the questions you receive on Messenger constantly as this new feature for businesses is expected to pick up in the coming months.

4. Develop a social sharing protocol

High-quality content is not worth anything if your team isn’t sharing it properly. Rather than just sharing content on the company’s social pages, develop an internal social sharing protocol. For instance, team members, such as sales reps and marketing directors, can share advanced content pieces (e.g., white papers and blog articles) on their social profiles. This will not only broaden your content’s reach and increase brand awareness, but it will put an individual face to your brand, which will resonate fantastically with your customers.

Whether you already have an established social presence or are just forming your social media strategy, keep experimenting with different types of video content and marketing strategies to find just the right way to resonate with your targeted audience. The more you revise and analyze, the more doors you’ll open to connect with both current and future customers that will ultimately drive business growth.


What Global Entrepreneurship Week Teaches Us About The World

Even in the most troubled areas of the world, entrepreneurs are starting businesses to solve real problems.

Internet Marketing Video Profits Unleashed Course Video #14

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Wesley Pereira Entrevista Kristell – Caso de Sucesso com Internet Marketing

Link do Fórmula Negócio Online: Link do Meu Blog: Link do Meu Facebook: Hoje quero compartilhar com vocês uma super entrevista que fiz com a Kristell Alba, uma …

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The Importance of Thinking Big and Believing in Yourself

You’re on the path. You’re headed in the right direction. You are getting there.

Why Every Company Needs a Deep Virtual Bench of Talent

Winning teams – in sports, business and in all areas of life – have deep benches.

Even if your company is fully staffed, taking your eye off the ball when it comes to recruiting is a sign of complacency, which is the kryptonite of success.

What if one of your stars takes another job? What if one of your top executives experiences an unexpected health crisis or family tragedy and leaves the company? Did you know that two-thirds of those reported to be misusing painkillers in the U.S. are currently employed and are thus susceptible to declining performance or medical leave?

More than ever before, companies must be ready to replace employees at a moment’s notice. The time it takes for you to fill a vacant position has increased. Glassdoor reports that since 2009, interview processes have grown from 3.3 to 3.7 days, and data from DHI Hiring Indicators shows that the average job opening remained unfilled for 28.1 days on average in 2016, which is an increase from 19.3 days in 2001 to 2003.

That is why it is critical for companies to build what is called a deep virtual bench. The world’s most innovative human resource leaders are vigilantly focused on recruiting 365 days a year.

Having helped world class companies recruit B2B sales executives for decades, here are have four ways to build a strong virtual bench.

  1. Aggressively target passive job seekers. LinkedIn reports that 70 percent of the worldwide workforce is comprised of passive candidates who aren’t pursuing new employment opportunities but may be open to listening. Passive recruiting is important, because most high performers are already gainfully employed. To effectively recruit passive B2B sales job seekers, you must have a great reputation within the industry as well as a seamless and optimized application process. (Companies such as Netflix and Facebook allow you to apply with one click of the mouse.) In addition, consider using an outside recruiting company to maintain a safe distance and avoid being accused of poaching.
  2. Leverage cutting-edge technology. Since implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into their recruiting process, Unilever saw the average time to hire an entry-level candidate dramatically reduced from four months to four weeks. Instead of visiting colleges, collecting resumes, and arranging interviews, the consumer good giant made the jobs known via social media and then partnered with an AI company to screen applicants. This took place in 68 counties in 15 languages with 250,000 applicants from July 2016 to June 2017. The time recruiters spent reviewing applications decreased 75 percent. LinkedIn recently announced Talent Insights, a new big data analytics product that enables HR leaders to delve more deeply into data for hiring. This helps employers identify which schools are graduating the most data scientists, engineers, etc. and analyze your recruitment patterns versus those of your competition. It further provides information about the growth of skills in certain areas of the country.
  3. Become an employer of choice. Glassdoor reported that 84 percent of employees would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. Great candidates, millennials especially, value a commitment to employee wellness, sustainability as well as initiative that cater to gender and diversity equality. Having a strong culture, values and clear company mission are critical to building a strong talent pipeline. Top companies such as Bain & Company, Google and Facebook offer perks, such as free meals, onsite gyms, massages, free laundry services and generous parental leave.

    Given that Americans currently carry a record $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, student loan repayment assistance has become one of the hottest benefits being offered by companies such as Fidelity and Aetna. The size of your company will dictate how many perks you can offer, but adoption of policies that are thoughtful of its employees will turn them into your biggest brand ambassadors. In addition to that organic positive publicity, submit applications for the “Best Places to Work” lists offered by most publications. These are now offered by most national publications as well as local business journals.

  4. Appeal to diverse candidates. To build a strong virtual bench, you must widen your search and appeal to candidates from different backgrounds. A PwC study found that 71 percent of survey respondents who implemented diversity practices reported a positive impact on the company’s recruiting efforts. The previously mentioned Unilever case study resulted in their most diverse entry-level class to date, including more nonwhite applicants, and the number of universities represented increased to 2,600 up from 840. To build your virtual bench, consider implementing diversity-friendly policies such as floating holidays. These allow people to take off on Good Friday, Yom Kippur, Ramadan or a yoga retreat if that is some employees’ preference.

Building your virtual bench 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year will help position your company for success, including, but not limited to, increased profitability and improved company reputation.


Experience My Brand Ties Customer Service Efforts to Profitability

Experience My Brand Ties Customer Service Efforts to BrandingExperience My Brand: How Successful Companies Develop Loyal Customers and Increase Profits is about what it takes to reach the goal of every business, creating a base of loyal and supportive customers. The book suggests that businesses only need one thing to stay profitable, a unique branded experience. To create that branded experience, you have to do more than offer low prices or create a fancy app. You have to get involved with customers on an emotional level. Experience My Brand shows business owners how your customer’s emotions are the key to a profitable bottom line.

What is Experience My Brand About?

Most business owners know that branding involves more than combining colors and shapes (sometimes letters). They struggle with making that all-important leap that will turn a casual customer into a loyal fan. Experience My Brand explores this problem and offers a framework and step-by-step strategy for conquering it. The key to making the leap from brand to loyal fan involves experience, specifically how customers experience your brand.

The problem, according to the book, is the separation between branding and customer experience. Businesses still place customer service in a “department”. Because of this separation, other areas of the business remain disconnected from the front line of your business. As a result, business leaders don’t “dig deep” when it comes to customer service. They focus on eliminating costs, superficial-level surveys, and excessive control. This cycle of disconnect isn’t apparent on the surface. For a while, a business can float on cutting corners with simple customer service surveys.

The decline begins when a new competitor offers customers a better deal closer to a customer’s concerns. (Think about Blockbuster’s late fee policy versus Netflix’s no late fees policy.)

Avoiding this downward spiral of your business’ brand requires maintaining a specific brand experience for your customers. It means figuring out what your customers need or want and aligning everything in your business around that purpose. In this kind of business, leaders empower the front line with resources and flexibility to deliver that brand experience. Front line workers keep leaders updated on issues and provide insight into other areas of the business.Customers are invited to be ambassadors and referral agents. As a result, a business creates its own cycle of listening, learning and monitoring. It creates its own upward climb toward brand excellence instead of a downward decline.

Experience My Brand is the brain child of Joe Tawfik. Tawfik is an author and consultant with over 25 years of management experience, Chief Executive Officer of Kinetic Consulting Services.

What Was Best About Experience My Brand?

Experience My Brand provides a unique perspective on customer service that you won’t find in other books. It offers the most comprehensive measurement of customer service you will probably find. If you are looking to connect business goals with the stats coming from the customer service department, this is definitely a book that you want to consider.

One other interesting aspect of the book is its view that customer service is a resource, not an asset that you can ignore.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

Experience My Brand does an incredible job of breaking down the vague concept of “customer service” into something that a business owner can track and measure more effectively. While this is extremely helpful, there are two caveats to consider. First, Experience My Brand is probably not a good fit for very small businesses (one-person businesses or partnerships.) The book requires labor and resources that a very small business may not have.

The other issue is the number of steps involved in the book’s core plan. The plan’s logic is very simple, but it involves 30 steps.

Why Read Experience My Brand?

Although Tawfik hates to use the word “customer service department”, Experience My Brand is best suited for leaders and executives running these very departments. The book provides an improved method for tying customer service efforts to business goals. It is also recommended for any leader of a small or medium-sized business who wants to improve his or her customer service department or staff. The book provides those leaders with a powerful vision that will give any business a profitable edge.

This article, “Experience My Brand Ties Customer Service Efforts to Profitability” was first published on Small Business Trends

Three Entrepreneurial Skills I Mastered and The One I Never Will

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As an entrepreneur, I know that a business isn’t easy to establish and run. Each day presents different challenges. Very often, I face a situation where I’m working on resolving a crisis and a new emergency comes up. The euphoria of landing a big client is often forgotten as I rush to handle the next issue that needs my attention.

I’ve realized that I have been able to build my company to its current size because of certain rules that I have followed in my day-to-day activities. I think these are universal principles. Any entrepreneur can use them and benefit from their application.


Giving up in the face of adversity is simply not an option. I have faced numerous situations where every door seems to be closed. Cash shortages, talent shortages, project delays – I have faced these and similar challenges dozens of times.

But, on each occasion, no matter how hopeless it initially looked, I’ve found a way out. How did I do that? For the most part, it is good, old-fashioned persistence and a refusal to admit defeat.

Handling failure well

When a big project fails, it is easy to get dejected. I remember the time when I worked for weeks to acquire a new customer. If I had succeeded, it would have resulted in a 50 percent increase in my yearly business volume. At the last moment, the client backed out.

At times like these, I like to think about Thomas Edison’s reaction to his factory burning down. He was 67 years old when this happened. His insurance covered only about a third of the damage. Additionally, he lost most of his research reports and prototypes.

Did he rave and rant and curse his luck? As a matter of fact, he didn’t. Not only did he take this loss in his stride, he told his son, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again … We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”

He went on to rebuild his factory and restart operations.

Managing your money

I have been able to run my business successfully because of my ability to control costs and avoid wasteful expenditure. Here are some of the ground rules that I and everyone in my company follow:

  • Expenditure that is nonproductive is not allowed. Every expense must contribute to the business.
  • Our suppliers need to justify the prices they charge us. For large purchases, we ask three suppliers to submit competing bids.
  • The company always has an emergency cash fund. This habit has helped us immensely.

Finally, I make it a practice not to hold back if the expense is justified. In fact, I don’t mind overspending if it helps us to innovate, to acquire a new customer, or to retain an existing client or critical resource.

I mastered these three skills a long time ago. Sure, I learn new things with experience and from other people, but they are foundational skills you need to master quickly to stay in business.

The one remaining skill that I have not mastered and probably never will relates more to people.

Leading people

I spend several hours every week learning new skills that could help me run my business in a better manner. I like to read up on talent management, especially in hyper-competitive technologies that I work in, like artificial intelligence. What motivates people and how can I get them to give their best?

I have implemented programs like strategic job families and nine block assessments to get better at acquiring and managing talent. But people and situations are infinitely more complex and evolving than many other parts of the business.

I have managed thousands of employees over the years and I am still amazed at the frequency that new situations come up. With each generation, you see trends and shared values and experiences resetting your approaches to people. From boomers to Gen X to millennials and beyond, new people mean new opportunities and new challenges.

I will never master everything related to people. I am thankful that I can keep trying by calling on the three skills I have mastered.


What the Next ‘Star Wars’ Generation Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Leadership

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Entrepreneurs have learned more about leadership from the “Star Wars” franchise than they may realize. These films taught us to use the power of the Force, belief in Yoda’s “do or do not, there is no try” sage wisdom and to follow our dreams to fulfill our destiny.

However, these were also leadership lessons from the original ’70s and ’80s trilogy — and plenty of movies in the series have been released since then. As the countdown begins until “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” arrives in theaters this December, we’re taking a look back at “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and what its next generation of heroes, including Rey, Finn, and Poe, can teach entrepreneurs about embracing their inner leader.

Surround yourself with a capable team

When we first meet Rey, she’s an independent scavenger on the planet Jakku. She goes out to find spare parts and brings them to the local marketplace in exchange for food portions. Rey might have remained a lone wolf had she not of rescued the BB-8 droid. Having no other place to go, BB-8 chooses to follow a reluctant Rey and later the ragtag team gets another member when Finn joins the crew.

A Stormtrooper, a scavenger and a droid. On the surface, they might have looked like an odd trio, but, together, they brought plenty of valuable strengths to the table. The same can be said about most entrepreneurs. Many begin as solitary figures, like Rey, wearing every possible hat and doing it all on their own. As time progresses with their startup, they realize that they can’t shoulder the workload alone and need help.

By hiring and bringing on a team of talent, you’re able to focus on other tasks at hand and pass off the ones you’re less capable of handling on your own to employees with experience.

Pick a solid name that resonates with those around you

Finn’s original identity was a Stormtrooper that went by FN-2187 — the only name he was ever given. He later became good friends with the pilot Poe who insisted on calling him Finn instead. The new name immediately stuck.

In a similar vein, entrepreneurs are tasked with the important mission of naming their small business. This name has to reflect what your brand offers, it has to be catchy and relevant to audiences, and it should be available to use. While all kinds of names have proven to be successful for various brands, the ones that endure the longest tend to be short, easy to spell, and look and sound good.

Find a mentor who can help take you to the next level

By the end of the movie, Rey has arrived at the planet Ahch-To where she finds Luke Skywalker and gives him back his lightsaber. While we don’t yet know for sure what will happen next between Luke and Rey, in “The Last Jedi,” the trailers have assured us that Rey will receive some training from Luke in understanding and harnessing her natural abilities with the Force.

Entrepreneurs may not possess Jedi Mind Tricks, but they can always use the extra guidance and encouragement that a mentor can provide. If you don’t already have one, seek out a mentor who can give you advice on weathering all the ups and downs in business you may experience. Remember: Nobody starts a company knowing every single thing in the industry and in your market. There will be plenty of unexpected surprises, good and bad, that crop up. A mentor’s presence will give you the confidence you need to get break through the hurdles to the other side.


Fearless Leadership Builds Resilient, Stronger Workplaces

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Fearless Leadership Leads to Resilient, Stronger WorkplacesIf you work long enough, you are almost guaranteed to work at a “bad job”. This is not simply a job where your skills or schedule (or something else) didn’t work out. Instead, this is a job defined by fear. It may feature disrespectful leadership, restrictive company policies or a cutthroat environment. Whatever it is, you know that the work environment is not good for you.

Have you ever wondered what made that place so bad? Fearless Leadership: Unlock Success Using the Secrets of the Brain has an answer for that.

What is Fearless Leadership About?

In Fearless Leadership, author Richard Varey argues leaders exert a larger influence on the workplace than their job descriptions might suggest. The book warns how the wrong leaders can negatively influence the mental environment of the people who work for them.

Fearless Leadership argues this influence begins in the brain, but it ends up destroying the company’s profits.

This is how it happens.

The human brain deals with fear quickly and effectively. When the brain interprets something as threatening (a tiger, a coworker we don’t like, a notice of dismal, etc.), it responds with three primary reactions: fight, freeze, or flee. Our body makes a split-second decision. Our bodies release hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol) and we deal with the situation. Problem solved.

The downside to this system hardwired into our brain is that it works the same, no matter the threat. It doesn’t matter if you are running from a tiger or getting fired, your brain still release the same chemicals. You still have the same reaction. These reactions may have been perfect for surviving the unpredictable and often dangerous environment of the distant past. However they may not be so effective in the modern day workplace.

Yet, there are still leaders who trigger this set of fear responses in the workplace. Leaders might yell, make fun of people or do other threatening things to those who report to them. These leaders believe they are helping the business, but it’s just the opposite. They are destroying it. In this kind of environment, a worker’s brain focuses on escape, not on productivity.

So how do you stop this? Fearless Leadership calls the answer — not surprisingly — the “Fearless Approach.” The approach on promoting three simple qualities in the workplace: resilience, relationships, and commitment to excellence. By utilizing this Fearless Approach, leaders can safeguard their workplaces against fear.

Varey is a secondary school teacher, speaker, and business owner of Fearless Leadership, a consulting agency for leadership and training development.

What Was Best About Fearless Leadership?

Although the book’s stated goal is to create “fearless leaders”, it focuses more on the idea of how to create  a stronger workplace. Fearless Leadership provides strategies and an assessment tool for any leader to refine and sharpen the relationships in his or her teams — even if you believe those relationships are already good.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

Fearless Leadership claims to be about removing workplace fear, but the book’s focus is actually on the opposite. It focuses on what leaders need to put into the workplace. This emphasis on the leader is important, but it is only one cause of an unproductive working environment. There are still other issues such as lack of diversity, that might be holding your business back from being all

Why Read Fearless Leadership?

Fearless Leadership is designed for the leader who needs to fix a toxic workplace. The book helps leaders assess their own contribution to that toxic workplace and provides a comprehensive strategy for a fresh new start.

Fearless Leadership is also designed for the leader who wants to refine his or her leadership skills. The book gives a multi-faceted approach that lets leaders figure out where they might need to improve and what impact this should have on the workplace.

This article, “Fearless Leadership Builds Resilient, Stronger Workplaces” was first published on Small Business Trends

Step Up Your Online Marketing with These 10 Underutilized Strategies

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There are plenty of online marketing strategies out there that most businesses already use or are at least aware of. But there are also some lesser known strategies or lessons that you might not have considered. See some of the top tips about not-so-obvious online marketing strategies from members of the online small business community below.

Don’t Fall for These Common PPC Misconceptions

When it comes to PPC advertising, it’s not always best to adhere to common practices. There are some misconceptions that have led to negatives for a lot of businesses. Pauline Jakober shares some common misconceptions about PPC advertising in this Search Engine Journal post.

Use Color to Increase Website Conversions

To make your website as effective as possible, you need to consider every single detail — and that includes the colors you choose to include in the design. In this SUCCESS Agency blog post, Mary Blackiston explains how you can use color to increase website conversions.

Take Advantage of These New Facebook Groups Features

Facebook is already a great way to connect with your community online. And now, the platform has introduced some improvements that could make your community even stronger. Mike Allton of the Social Media Hat details those features here. And BizSugar members also share thoughts on the post too.

Try These Lesser Known Online Advertising Platforms

You already know about the big name online advertising platforms like Google. But there are plenty of other options out there that small businesses can use to supplement their online advertising strategies. Susan Solovic lists three lesser known options in this post.

Take a Look at the Best SEO Strategy You’re Not Using

Link building is a common SEO practice. But there’s another layer to that strategy that many businesses overlook. For that reason, Neil Patel thinks it’s one of the best SEO strategies you’re not already using. He goes into more detail in a recent post.

Track Blog Growth with Google Analytics

Blogging is a common tactic used to grow a business. But before you can reap the benefits of blogging, you have to actually grow a successful blog. In this Basic Blog Tips post, Susan Velez offers some insights you can use to track your blog growth using Google Analytics.

Change Your Content Marketing Program in 2018

Content marketing is already a popular strategy. But if you’re not adapting to the latest trends and changing up your tactics to better serve potential customers, you could fall behind. Rachel Lindteigen of Marketing Land outlines how you can change up your content marketing program for 2018.

Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

If you’re not already using Instagram for marketing your business, you’re really missing out. In this Blogging Wizard post, Elna Cain discusses the potential benefits of the platform. You can also see commentary from the BizSugar community.

Learn How to Identify and Deal with Detractors

Brand advocates can offer lots of potential marketing value for businesses. But detractors have the opposite effect. So you need to be able to identify those detractors and learn how to minimize their impact. Ivan Widjaya elaborates in a recent SMB CEO post.

Build a Top Notch Content Marketing Team

Content marketing isn’t just a small operation anymore. If you’re still trying to manage your content strategy on your own or with one part time team member, your business could fall behind. Instead, consider the skills listed in this Content Marketing Institute post by Michele Linn when building your content marketing team.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:

Online Marketing photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Step Up Your Online Marketing with These 10 Underutilized Strategies” was first published on Small Business Trends